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This article is part of our Winter 2021 Breaking Barriers. This installment focuses on unexpected access. If you'd like to read more stories from this issue, please subscribe to Breaking Barriers

While the rest of the world, it seemed, collectively mourned the loss of closeness and community this past year, I suddenly found myself a new reason to smile each Sunday: church that came home to me. 

Over the years, I’ve learned that I had to just accept the days when my participation in the church community would be sporadic. Whether because of my unpredictable health, or occasionally due to a child being home with a bout of some illness, I always felt isolated on the Sundays that found my family sitting out a service. After losing my job due to a traumatic brain injury, the isolation felt by the rest of the world during the COVID-19 pandemic was all too familiar. I knew isolation like others knew community. 

Still, church was one place I clung to for a sense of togetherness and love. The weeks I missed left a sadness over me. So, when church leaders got creative and decided we could “gather together,” albeit virtually, a brand new reality became mine: I could still worship with my church family, even on my worst days! I no longer needed to choose between staying home and hauling a wheelchair into the car. Perhaps more significantly, I was no longer alone in attending church from the couch. Imagine my delight when our pastor even wore pajamas underneath his robe to the amusement of us all. 

Life in a pandemic has certainly created challenges and pain for many people. It’s been a time of tremendous struggle. Still, if we look a little closer, perhaps we will see that there is light in the dark places. In my case, it was the chance to attend church from home, regardless of my health any given week. It was an opportunity to be just like everyone else in the church. It was a moment of unusual togetherness, despite the physical distances that separated us all. 

One day, my hope is that hugs and handshakes can again be the norm, and perhaps “Zoom Church” won’t be the usual for everyone. Yet, now that we see it can be done, maybe it will continue to be an option for those of us who need it. Perhaps the separation we’ve had to endure during this pandemic will, in the end, keep us closer. 

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